Monday, November 17, 2014

Herman J. Russell 


The Auburn Avenue Research Library honors the life and legacy of Mr. Herman J. Russell.  Mr. Russell's vision and architectural achievements for the city of Atlanta are documented in the personal papers and organizational records of the Rev. Hosea Williams, Ambassador Andrew Young, Harmon Perry and the Atlanta Chapter of the NAACP.  

For more information about the life and work of Mr. Russell, please visit the New Georgia Encyclopedia  (Chenault, Wesley. "Herman J. Russell
(b. 1930)." New Georgia Encyclopedia. 05 June 2014. Web. 17 November 2014.)

-Photograph courtesy of Archives Division, Auburn Avenue Research Library on African American Culture and History, Atlanta-Fulton Public Library System. Hosea Williams Photograph Collection

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

GA State Representative Robert “Bob” Holmes, PhD

 Politics in the Archives

Dr. Robert Holmes served as a State Representative in the Georgia General Assembly from 1975 to 2009. Over the years, he rose to be one of the most influential members of that body, becoming the first African American to serve on the Budget Sub-Committee. He served as Director of the Southern Center for Studies in Public Policy from 1985-2005, headquartered at Clark- Atlanta University.

Dr. Holmes was also the Director of the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute from 2002-2005, an organization dedicated to maintaining the rich legacy of
 Du Boisian scholarship.

Dr. Holmes completed his PhD in political science at Columbia University at the age of 25 and went on to hold several prestigious fellowships, including Fellow, Southern Center for International Studies, 1978-1981. He also served as a Danforth Foundation Associate, 1975-1986.

His collection in the AARL Archives includes photographs, correspondence, records of his political contributions, committees served on, national boards of directors served on, speeches, state and national awards; papers presented and published journal articles.

The collection also highlights his role as a founding member of one of the first African American running clubs in the southeastern United States. Holmes has been an avid runner since the early 1970’s.

-Eleanor L. Hunter, Librarian
Auburn Avenue Research Library

Friday, October 24, 2014

Celebrating Baseball:  

Atlanta Black Crackers

In celebration of the 2014 World Series, the AARL Archives travels back to an Atlanta treasure found in the pamphlet collection.  The Atlanta Black Crackers, formerly known as the Atlanta Cubs, began playing minor league baseball in Atlanta in 1919.  The team played in the Negro Southern League and the Negro American League during the first half of the twentieth century.  According to the 1945 Atlanta Black Crackers Publicity Manual, "Well stocked with prewar stars, the Black Crackers have their eyes formed on Southern League pennant for the second straight year, and will display the same brand of ball that made the Atlanta club a tremendous drawing card last season."

For more information on the history of the Atlanta Black Crackers, please visit our previous post about the team.  

Thursday, July 5, 2012

To Keep or Not to Keep: What's Really in the Archives

Andrew J. Young Papers, AARL Archives Division

You never really know what you might find in the archives. This is part of the excitement- both for a researcher looking at a collection for the first time, but also for the archivist processing the collection before it is open to the public. Researchers hope for that special something that will help strengthen their thesis or that document they weren’t expecting that might set their work apart from other previous work. It is not the job of the archivist to interpret documents for future researchers, but, in deciding what to keep and what not to keep- what we call appraisal- it is important to consider what kinds of questions future researchers might be interested in. In Gregory S. Hunter’s Developing and Maintaining Practical Archives, Hunter argues that “the archivist must be aware of current research trends and interests, using this information to extrapolate what may be of interest to future researchers. This is a weighty responsibility” (Hunter, 52).

This responsibility is one that archivists at Auburn Avenue Research Library, like all archival repositories, take very seriously. When donors give collections to a repository, they typically sign a deed of gift agreement that lays out the guidelines for the collection. Donor agreements vary widely- some donors give archives free reign to open anything found in the collection to the public. Other agreements may specify that any sensitive information, such as documents containing personal information, remain closed for a period of time. These agreements are necessary because donors are entrusting our archives with their papers- whether they are family or individual papers, or their life’s work. Often, even if a person is donating his/her own papers, one may not realize everything that it is in the collection. Some collections are so large and, in the case of politicians or business collections that have been handled by many people, the donor may not realize that someone’s family photos or birthday cards or cigarette cartons, may be hiding in a box. In these cases, the archivist may refer to the deed of gift agreement for clarification, or, in the case of the cigarette carton or candy wrapper, simply discard it; unless the carton is very old and in good enough condition that it might make an interesting exhibit piece. You can see where this gets complicated, even with items that might seem like everyday trash.

Of course, there are times when an archivist may find documents of greater concern, either because of privacy issues or because the document’s potential research value is outweighed by its salacious nature. Medical records, adoption records, and disturbing or violent photos are just a few examples- in these cases, archivists would close or destroy the items to protect the parties involved. If the donor is still alive, the archivist may even return the items in question.

As Hunter said, appraisal is a “weighty responsibility” indeed. Every repository is constrained by space and storage concerns and even if we want to, we just can’t keep everything. That is why archivists at AARL spend a great deal of time processing collections, thinking about what visiting researchers might be interested in, and doing our very best to honor those whose papers we’ve collected.

Developing and Maintaining Practical Archives: A How-to-do-it-Manual. 2nd edition. Gregory S. Hunter. New York: Neal-Schuman Publishers, Inc. 2003.

Jessica Perkins-Smith, LSU MLIS graduate student, AARL Archives Intern

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The Donald L. Hollowell Papers at AARL

Donald Hollowell, Rev. Samuel Williams, head of the Atlanta NAACP, and Hamilton Holmes, at the University of Georgia. January 1961. The UGA Arch seen here is just to the left of the admissions building where Holmes and Charlayne Hunter had just become the first African American students to register at the University. Forty years later, the building would be named the Holmes-Hunter Academic Building.
Photo courtesy Donald L. Hollowell Papers, AARL Archives Division.
The Auburn Avenue Research Library’s Archives Division recently acquired Donald Hollowell’s papers, which will soon be open to the public for research. Donald Hollowell was an Atlanta attorney who practiced for over fifty years and, most notably, argued many high profile civil rights cases successfully during the 1960s. Hollowell was born in 1917 in Kansas, served in the military during World War II, and graduated law school from Loyola University in Chicago. According to University of Georgia History professor Robert Pratt’s book, We Shall Not be Moved: The Desegregation of the University of Georgia, Hollowell decided to set up his practice in Georgia in the 1940s, in part because he’d met his future wife Louise there, but also because there were very few African American lawyers in the South at the time, and Hollowell was interested in “using the law to break down racial barriers” (53). In 1956, Hollowell became a part of the NAACP legal team defending Horace Ward, an African American student who for years had been repeatedly denied entrance to the University of Georgia’s law school for no apparent reason other than the color of his skin.

The Ward case later grew to include two other African American students who’d been denied entrance to UGA’s undergraduate program, Charlayne Hunter and Hamilton Holmes. In the 1960 complaint Hollowell and the NAACP filed on behalf of the students, he explains that the suit was being brought because the University has refused to “consider the application of Negro residents of Georgia for admission to the University of Georgia upon the same terms and conditions applicable to white applicants; and from failing and refusing to act expeditiously upon applications received from Negro applicants; and from refusing to approve the applications of qualified Negroes for admission to the University of Georgia, solely because of the race and color of such applicants.”

While Hollowell’s case files are fascinating on their own, research on Hollowell also shows that he had a compassionate, humane side that helped to make him an even better attorney. In his book, Pratt quotes Charlayne Hunter-Gault: “Hollowell was like a father figure; he was very close to my family, very avuncular, and very reassuring, always slow and deliberate in his speech. I never hesitated to call him at home, because he really felt like a family member. He always appeared to be in total control; he never panicked. He was attentive to little things, like making sure that I was eating right” (129).

Hollowell’s own papers further illuminate his humanity and concern for his clients and for people in general. Through correspondence between Hollowell and Mary Blackwell, another African American student who was admitted to UGA in 1962, the semester after Hunter and Holmes won their case, it is apparent that, for Hollowell, helping these students gain admission to college was not the end of the road. He was genuinely concerned for their well being and was willing to do whatever he could to help ensure that they would be able to graduate. Between 1963 and 1965, Hollowell corresponded with Blackwell, who, though she’d been admitted to college, was struggling to pay for her school expenses with no help from her family. Hollowell found financial help for Blackwell from a Baltimore businessman who was actively interested in civil rights cases in the South and wanted to help. Through these letters, Blackwell expresses her ongoing appreciation to Hollowell for finding her assistance, and Hollowell shows his continued support for Blackwell and his concern for her safety and success in school.

It should be noted that Mary Blackwell Diallo went on to graduate from UGA in 1966 and later received an MA from the school in 1973. Diallo is currently a professor of French at Florida A&M University. Through Hollowell’s papers, researchers will be able to gain insight into Hollowell’s case history, but also will be able to see his concern for people and what made him such a successful civil rights attorney.

-Jessica Perkins Smith, LSU MLIS graduate student, AARL Archives Intern

Diallo, Mary. “Fear was rampant.” “Celebrating Courage: 50th Anniversary of Desegregation at UGA.” Georgia Magazine. March 2011.

Pratt, Robert A. We Shall Not be Moved: The Desegregation of the University of Georgia. Athens, Georgia: The University of Georgia Press, 2002.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Documenting Sports: 100% Wrong Club of Atlanta

Mrs. Margaret Jacobs donated the historical records of the 100% Wrong Club to the Auburn Avenue Research Library. The majority of the records were collected by her late husband, Joseph H. Jacobs, a member of the club.  Established in 1934 by the Sports Department of the Atlanta Daily World, the club’s members surveyed college teams and athletes for recognition and awards. The club has expanded its scope by continuing to recognize and award college and high school athletes, local community leaders, and national pioneers in the field of sports and social justice. Each year, after the college bowl games, the club selects college and high school student athletes to attend the annual "Sports Jamboree" weekend. The collection includes photographs, minutes, news clippings, correspondence and ephemera.

The collection is now available for use:;query=wrong;brand=default

Posted by Kerrie Cotten Williams, Archivist and Manager of the AARL Archives Division

Friday, June 8, 2012

Meet Our New AARL Archives Intern for Summer 2012

The AARL Archives Division hosts graduate interns who desire practical experience in special collections.  This year we have another dynamic student, Jessica Perkins Smith.  I asked her a few questions about her background and interests...

KCW:  What is your academic institution?

JPS:  Louisiana State University School of Library and Information Science.  I will graduate in December '12 with an MLIS, with an archives focus.

KCW:  Why did you select AARL as an internship site?

JPS:  I have a history and archival research background, and the Civil Rights movement has always been my main area of interest. Interning at Auburn Avenue is allowing me to work with collections that interest me, but I also knew that I would learn from the archivist here by getting great hands on experience in processing, writing finding aids, and helping researchers.

KCW:  What is your internship assignment/project?

JPS:  I am currently working on processing the papers of Atlanta attorney Donald L. Hollowell. Hollowell was instrumental in several prominent Civil Rights cases in Atlanta and throughout Georgia.

KCW:  What is the most interesting item you've handled?

JPS:  Hollowell represented Preston Cobb, the 15 year old African American teen convicted and sentenced to death for killing a white man in 1961 in Georgia. Hollowell succeeded in getting Cobb's execution stayed and, eventually his death sentence was commuted and Cobb served 18 years in prison. In processing Hollowell's papers I found correspondence between Hollowell and a Baltimore businessman, Abe Blumenthal, who had taken an interest in Preston Cobb's case and wanted to help. Blumenthal wanted to help Cobb continue his education while in prison and helped by sending money and writing Cobb letters.

Posted by Kerrie Cotten Williams, Archivist and Manager of the AARL Archives Division